The early detection of ovarian cancer: from traditional methods to proteomics. Can we really do better than serum CA-125?

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2008 Sep;199(3):215-23. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2008.04.009. Epub 2008 May 12.


Ovarian cancer is the leading cause of death from gynecologic malignancy in the United States. More than 80% of patients present with advanced disease, with 5 year survival rates between 15% and 45%. In contrast, the survival rate for stage I disease, with malignancy confined to the ovary, is approximately 95%. Given the discrepancy in survival outcomes between early- and late-stage disease, strategies that would allow for the detection of ovarian cancer in its early stages would hold promise to significantly improve the mortality rate from ovarian cancer. Unfortunately, current screening methods for the detection of early stage ovarian cancer are inadequate. However, several recent proteomics-based biomarker discovery projects show promise for the development of highly sensitive and specific markers for gynecological malignancies, including ovarian cancer. In this review, we hope to provide an overview of the early detection ovarian cancer from traditional methods to recent promises in the proteomics pipeline.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Apolipoprotein A-I / analysis
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / blood*
  • CA-125 Antigen / blood
  • Epididymal Secretory Proteins / analysis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Microdissection / methods
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Proteomics
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption-Ionization
  • Ultrasonography, Doppler, Color
  • Vagina / diagnostic imaging
  • beta-Defensins


  • Apolipoprotein A-I
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • CA-125 Antigen
  • DEFB126 protein, human
  • Epididymal Secretory Proteins
  • beta-Defensins